Georgetown Needs Joshua Smith to Fill Its Rebounding Vacuum

Posted by Alex Moscoso on November 15th, 2014

On Saturday afternoon, Georgetown’s Joshua Smith suited up for his first official game since January 4, the date when he was suspended for failing to meet academic obligations and only the latest bump in a turbulent road throughout his collegiate career. In last season’s 13 games for the Hoyas, he was a helpful presence, leading the team in Win Shares per 40 minutes (.191) despite playing fewer than 20 minutes in nine of those games. Smith’s presence inside balanced the team’s offense by providing efficient post scoring to complement outside shooting from D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks. But after his suspension, Georgetown struggled, losing six of its next seven games en route to an 18-15 overall record and missing the NCAA Tournament. Now, Smith is back, Starks is gone, and the Hoyas have added a slate of talented freshmen who will play significant roles this year. The challenge for Smith, in his final year of eligibility, will be again defining his role and asserting himself in the new rotation. In Saturday’s game against St. Francis (NY), an 83-62 victory, it became obvious what the Hoyas need from Smith the most: rebounding.

Josh Smith Iis back and the Hoyas need him on the boards. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Josh Smith is back, and the Hoyas will need him to rebound more effectively. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Smith posted a familiar stat line of 19 minutes, 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, two rebounds (both were offensive rebounds of his own misses), and a block. Limited minutes, high offensive efficiency, and leaving something to be desired on the rebounding front are what we’ve become accustomed to with this player. But head coach John Thompson III is not conceding to this assumption. He expects more from his senior center, and he made that clear when he was asked about Smith’s performance in the postgame press conference: “I thought it was unacceptable. He’s got to play better. Josh Smith can’t play and have two offensive rebounds, two rebounds total.” His lack of rebounding presence was certainly felt, as the Terriers grabbed 22 offensive boards on the day, a major contributing factor as to why they were able to take 10 more shots than the Hoyas. As Thompson acknowledged, giving up that many offensive rebounds will become a greater issue when the Hoyas start playing Big East and other high-major teams that can better take advantage of those second chances.

Smith should certainly be able to improve his 3.4 RPG average from a year ago. Last season’s leading rebounder, Nate Lubick, has graduated, and the team’s second leading rebounder, Smith-Rivera, is transitioning to take on more of the point guard duties in place of Starks. This leaves a sizable vacuum on the glass that the senior should easily fill up. He’s certainly shown capable of doing better; he averaged 6.3 RPG in his freshman season at UCLA, more than Lubick and almost double his average from last season. Lastly, if the Hoyas play more of an attacking-style offense (as they did on Saturday), then that too should create shorter caroms from missed shots that Smith is more than capable of grabbing. The opportunity to put a full season of success is there for Smith — whether he chooses to engage it may determine if Georgetown can challenge Villanova in the Big East race and ultimately get the Hoyas back to the NCAA Tournament.

Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *